Religion and Philosophy

Five Theories of Human Nature

Are humans fundamentally good or bad? These intellectual currents shape the discussion to this day.


For decades now, we have witnessed a push towards the idea that humans are fundamentally good at heart.

The massive international bestseller, Human kind by Rutger Bregman, even goes as far as trying (and failing) to debunk the Milgram experiments and other important works showing that, well, pure goodness certainly isn’t the one and only feature of humanity. There are disturbing and dark aspects as well, and we can’t just wish them away.

Here are the four main ideas that shape much of modern thinking about these matters—plus another, better way of looking at it.

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